The Histories by Herodotus – Book I, “Clio” X – Cyrus Meets His End Against the Messagetae [201-216]

Cyrus lost his blood head.

The Histories by Herodotus – Book I, “Clio”

X – Cyrus Meets His End Against the Messagetae [201-216]

  • After conquering Babylon made for the Massagetae eastward beyond the River Araxes.
  • The Araxes is about the size of the Danube with fairly large islands. Their inhabitants mostly ate roots and tree fruit. They burnt parts of a tree and sat around the fire. They’d act drunk, sing and dance. The river was divided into channels by Cyrus, creating bogs and swamps. The people mostly ate raw fish and wore seal skins. The River ended in the Caspian Sea (Herodotus was wrong about this).
  • That’s the only connection to the Caspian Sea, which takes 15 days to row across and 8 days up and down. The Caucus Mountains are at its shore and the largest mountain range on earth (to Herodotus’s time). Many different tribes live there. They have dyes from trees, which they used to dye clothes and paint pictures on their clothes that won’t fade. Cyrus wanted the Massagetae had a queen, Tomyris, who had inherited the throne after her husband died. Cyrus sent envoys, asking for her marriage. She was hip to his plan and sent them away. He marched there with an army, built a bridge across the river and made for the city.
  • While Cyrus was preparing, Tomyris sent a messenger to him, telling him to stop fighting and be happy with peace in his own kingdom. Since she knew he wouldn’t stop, she said “Meet us at the river in 3 days. Which side of the river you’ll be on will tell us your intentions.” Cyrus wanted to cross the river.
  • Croesus didn’t like the idea. “If you think you’re immortal and a king, remember that you won’t always have good luck. If you lose, you lose everything – your throne, your kingdom, your life. If you win, you don’t win very much. You’ll have to chase them around, catch them and beat them. You shouldn’t have to bow to a woman. Just cross the river, if they choose to interpret that as aggression, so be it. But we’ll set up a Persian feast, one like they’ve never seen before. We’ll get them drunk and full and then kill them.
  • Cyrus liked the idea and told her he’d cross the river. His son, Cambyses would go back to Persia with Croesus. He was told to treat him well if things ended badly. Then he crossed the river.
  • He spent the night on the other side of the river and had a dream about Hystaspes’s son with wings, 1 over Europe and 1 over Asia. He woke up, borthered that Hystaspes’s son, Darius, was plotting against him, the founder of the Persian Empire, giving them a great life. But Hystaspes should go back to Persia and they’ll discuss it later.
  • The dream wasn’t a plot by Darius but a vision that one day Darius would be king. Hystaspes couldn’t imagine any Persian plotting against Cyrus. But if he insisted, he’ll handover Darius.
  • Cyrus set up a camp with bad soldiers and set up the feast. Tomyris’s men saw this and joined. Once a sleep, the Persians killed most of them and imprisoned the rest. When Tomyris heard the news, she sent a messenger, “You took my son, Spargapises. Bring him back to me unharmed and I’ll give you land. If you don’t, I’ll kill you.”
  • Spargapises begged for freedom and when he was freed, he killed himself.
  • Tomyris head and sent the army into battle. They were much tougher than other opponents. Archers and warriors fought and fought, and the Massagetae won. Cyrus died and most of his army did with him. Tomyris found his body and dunked his head in blood, to give him more of the taste of blood he wanted.
  • The Massagetae were like the Scythians – fought on horseback and foot, used arrows, lances and battleaxes, all of either brass or gold.
  • The wines were held in common but each man has only one wife. Old people were sacrificed and eaten. If he died of disease, nobody ate him and he’d be buried sadly because he didn’t have the honor of sacrifice. They didn’t eat grains but fish, herds and milk. They worshiped the sun and sacrificed horses to it.

Video Summary of the Text:


The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 3 – “Antigone”

The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 3 – “Antigone”

The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 3 – “Antigone”

[At the Royal Palace]

Antigone – Ismene, what’s the latest in father’s curse? I haven’t really had much trouble. But there’s been an edict issued.

Ismene – Nothing since our 2 brothers killed each other and the Argive army left.

Antigone – Eteocles is to be buried with full honors while Polyneices is to be left out to rot, not to be mourned or buried. They’ve got guard to watch the body.

Ismene – Well, what should we do?

Antigone – Will you help me bury him?

Ismene – But it’s forbidden.

Antigone – Creon has no right to stop me.

Ismene – Father suffered and we suffer as a result of our family curse. Mother died and our 2 brothers died in a civil war. We’re all that’s left of the family. We’re women and don’t have any power, especially with Creon in power. I wish to ask the gods forgiveness for not performing the duty.

Antigone – I won’t force you to but I’m going to do it anyway. This is the only way to honor him. We owe more to the dead than to the living.

Ismene – I’m not dishonoring him I just can’t break the law.

Antigone – I’ll do it alone then.

Ismene – Do it silently. I won’t tell anyone either.

Antigone – Silence is worse. Heaven’s laws are greater than earth’s

Ismene – I can’t do it. I haven’t got the nerve.

Antigone – Well, I hate that you feel this way but stay out of my way. [Both leave]

[Chorus of Elders enter]

Chorus – The battle between the two armies went at it hammers and tongs. Eteocles was chosen by the people to rule and Polyneices was exiled but tried to win the city back by attacking it.

Creon [enters] – After all the horrors that have been inflicted on Thebes, there’s finally a peace. Eteocles is to be buried and Polyneices is to be left out to rot – unburied in shame.

Chorus – We understand and obey.

Creon – See that everybody else does the same. [Guard enters]

Guard – Sir, I regret to inform you… I don’t want to but… It wasn’t me… But it did happen…

Creon – Out with it!!

Guard – When we turned our heads from the body, someone tried to bury the body.

Chorus – Maybe the gods did it.

Creon – Quiet! The gods would never bury a traitor. You guards were bribed. If you don’t find who did it, I’ll hold you personally responsible for this. [Guard leaves]

Chorus – Some men rise up to dominate others but he’ll always be dominated by death. [Guard enters with Antigone] What’s this? Antigone, a prisoner? [Creon enters]

Creon – What’s all this?

Guard – Sir, the guards and I dug up the body and a dust storm blinded us. Once it ended, we saw this one here burying the body. She gave us a full confession.

Creon – Do you agree with this version of events?

Antigone – Yes.

Creon – [to guard] You’re clear of the charge. You may leave. [to Antigone] Did you know about my edict?

Antigone – I couldn’t help it. Everyone knew. It was everywhere.

Creon – Why did you break it?

Antigone – That wasn’t Zeus’s edict. Your edict was earthly, not heavenly. I’m not willing to cross the gods. You’ve got no right to override heavenly mandates to bury the dead. I’m not afraid of you.

Chorus – She’s a passionate one and doesn’t know how to bend. Just like her father.

Creon – I should have known that you’d do it. There’s no room for pride with you. If I let this stand, I’m no longer the leader. Go get Ismene to verify this story.

Antigone – What can you do apart from convicting and killing me?

Creon – That’s all I plan to do.

Antigone – What are you waiting for? I’ve agreed to everything that I’ve been accused of. Nothing is holier than to bury my brother. Everyone agrees with me but is too afraid to say so.

Creon – The chorus agree with me.

Antigone – They agree with me but you scare them.

Creon – Aren’t you ashamed?

Antigone – There’s nothing to be ashamed of it. It was a righteous act.

Creon – He was a traitor!

Antigone – Traitor or not, he was my brother and I have an obligation to him and to the gods to bury him. That’s more important than your edict.

Creon – The wicked aren’t worthy of honor. He killed this city’s champion, his brother, and he deserves this.

Antigone – Nevertheless, he deserves a proper burial

Creon – Clearly, Hades knows the difference between good and evil. You’ll find out soon yourself.

[Ismene enters accompanied by guards]

Creon – You! You’re even worse – a snake in the grass. I had 2 backstabbers under my roof. Care to confess anything?

Ismene – Yes, I share the guilt.

Antigone – No way, you tried to talk me out of it.

Ismene – I won’t leave you high and dry.

Antigone – The dead and Hades know that’s not true.

Ismene – Please, let me stand by you in this shitty time.

Antigone – No way, this is all my thing.

Ismene – Why are you being this way? Let me help you.

Antigone – Save yourself. You chose to live. I chose to die. Be happy. My life is spent serving the dead.

Creon – Both of you two are awful.

Ismene – Will you kill the betrothed to your son?

Creon – He’ll find other field to plough.

Ismene – He’ll never love another.

Creon – I don’t want my son to marry an evil woman.

Antigone – Haemon doesn’t deserve such a father. [Antigone and Ismene are led away]

Chorus – Consider yourself lucky if you’ve never known evil. We’ve been swimming in it for generations with no end in sight. [Haemon enters]

Creon – I guess you’re angry with me for condemning Antigone…

Haemon – I follow your example for guidance.

Creon – Your heart should follow the law. Men hope for obedient children to help them to fight their enemies. Please… this is my way. Any woman guilty of treason isn’t a good choice for a wife. This disobedience is the ruin of cities and ours is already on a rocky path.

Chorus – That’s a good point.

Haemon – The gods have given us reason and we ought to use it. I don’t wish to condemn to death anyone who offends you. You’re putting her to death for following the gods’ will. I’m not berating you but I think you’re wrong. Don’t be so rigid and slacken once in a while and be willing to change.

Chorus – He seems to have good words for a youth.

Creon – I won’t be lectured by a whippersnapper.

Haemon – My age can’t be overcome by wise words, it seems

Creon – Is it right to honor the unruly?

Haemon – I don’t want to respect evil-doers.

Creon – But that’s what she’s done.

Haemon – Nobody agrees with you.

Creon – Are they telling me how to rule? It’s mine to rule. You seem to be more on her side than mine.

Haemon – I want justice. You seem to be against it.

Creon – These are my prerogatives as a ruler.

Haemon – But you’re trampling on the gods’ wishes.

Creon – You’ll never marry that girl.

Haemon – If she dies, another will die.

Creon – Are you threatening me? You’ll regret it. I’ll bring her in here and kill her right in front of you.

Haemon – You’ll never see me again. Do what you will. [Leaves]

Chorus – That was intense. He went off in a huff.

Creon – Whatever he does, it won’t save those 2 girls.

Chorus – Are you going to kill both?

Creon – Well, not Ismene.

Chorus – But Antigone?

Creon – We’ll put her in a cave with a little food and wall her up. That way we don’t be responsible. The gods can step in if they want [leaves]

Chorus – Love seems to be at work, fighting for eternal laws. Creon is fighting the will of Aphrodite to have Haemon and Antigone marry. [Antigone enters]

Antigone – Citizens, this is my last day. I had so many plans in life. I won’t be married. I won’t have children. I’m going off to Hades instead.

Chorus – Sickness doesn’t take you, nor does violence… It’s your own fate that kills you.

Antigone – I’ve heard of those walking off to their doom but I don’t fear doom.

Chorus – She was in a much more exalted position than you. We are mortals, not gods.

Antigone – Can’t you wait until I’m dead to mock me?

Chorus – You went against the throne. You’ve fallen into the same fate as your father.

Antigone – We of the Labdacus family are doomed… my father, mother, brothers and now me.

Chorus – We praise you for your honor of your brother but you’ve committed a capital crime and that’s your ruin.

Antigone – I don’t regret it and no one feels sorry for me.

Creon [enters] – You… Get her out of here. I’m completely clean in all this. You’ve committed the crime and you must pay.

Antigone – I’ll see my father, mother and brothers. So much, I’ll never get to do in life… and for what? Because your law was made up on a whim and nobody supports you. Nothing is better than to defy an awful tyrant.

Chorus – This girl’s soul is burning with a great passion.

Creon – She knew the rules and did it anyway.

Antigone – Here I go off to die because I honor my doomed family and stood up to arbitrary, evil laws [leaves].

Chorus – Danae was also walled up, her behind a brass wall. But Antigone will not give birth to a great man, Theseus. [Teiresias enters]

Teiresias – Creon, I’ve come here to talk to you. The gods aren’t happy with what you’ve done. I’ve tried to assuage them… No use.

Creon – What are you saying, exactly?

Teiresias – Good counsel is the most valuable thing – you’re ill-tempered.

Creon – Careful now, you’re speaking to your king, you know.

Teiresias – You won’t like what I’ve got to say.

Creon – Out with it!

Teiresias – You’re not long for this world. Your actions will lead from one corpse to another. You’ve pissed off the gods and you’ll cause more death in your house. [leaves]

Chorus – You know, he’s never been wrong…

Creon – I know but I can’t change due to my pride. I’ll be seen as weak.

Chorus – You ought to listen. Go free her before it’s too late.

Creon – Give in? Well, only because the gods want it. [leaves]

Chorus – Bacchus, this is a cause for celebration. Thebes finally has something to celebrate! Finally, happy news.

Messenger – I bring some sad news. Although Creon’s been a good king…

Chorus – Tell us!

Messenger – Haemon has killed himself.

Chorus – The prophet was right.

[Eurydice, Creon’s wife enters]

Eurydice – What’s the news?

Messenger – The dogs ate Polyneices’s body. Creon panicked and went to Antigone’s cave. She was found hanged. Haemon saw this and killed himself. [Eurydice leaves]

Chorus – She’s freaked out about this…

Messenger – I can’t say that I blame her. She wants to be alone, I guess.

Chorus – But she left so quietly. That’s never good.

Messenger – You’re right. I’ll check up on her.

[Creon enters with Haemon on a bier]

Chorus – Here he comes. No need to say it but it’s his fault.

Creon – Fucking hell!! My own words and actions did this. This is awful.

Chorus – We warned you. Haemon warned you. Teiresias warned you.

Creon – I know and I have to live with this.

Messenger – Sir, I’ve got more bad news. The queen is dead.

Creon – Fucking hell! Is there no end to this misery? My son? My wife? There’s nothing left.

Messenger – She stabbed herself in the heart. After Haemon and your other son Megaleus dying in the civil war, it was all too much for her.

Creon – Fuck!! This is all my fault. I hope for death because nothing can ever be good to me again. Please, take me away.

Chorus – Wisdom is the biggest part of the happiest, as well as reverence toward the gods. Proud words come back to bite you in the ass and teach these who receive it to be wise.


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The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 2 – “Oedipus at Colonus”

The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 2 – “Oedipus at Colonus”

[At Colonus ~ 1 mile NW of Athens in a grove sacred to the Furies. Enter Oedipus and daughter, Antigone]

Oedipus – Where are we? Can you see if there’s somewhere to rest? Maybe someone can tell us where we are?

Antigone – Any life seems far away. It appears to be sacred. Have a seat. We’re in Athens but I don’t know where. But here comes someone [Stranger enters]

Oedipus – Stranger, tell me something…

Stranger – Before you say anything, you can’t sit there. It’s illegal. It’s the ground of the Eumenides, daughters of the Earth and darkness

Oedipus – Good, let them receive a suppliant. Please, I’m a traveler in need of gods’ help. Where are we?

Stranger – It’s called Colonus, a land holy to many gods

Oedipus – Who’s the king around here? I’d like to speak with him

Stranger – Theseus, son of Argus. Why do you wish to speak with him?

Oedipus – I think I can help him

Stranger – A blind man’s going to help him?

Oedipus – It’s advice from when I wasn’t blind

Stranger – I’ll see what I can do. Stay here and I’ll try to get someone to come here [leaves]

Oedipus – Is he gone?

Antigone – Yes, we’re alone again

Oedipus – Oh, Furies… Apollo told me I’d come here to die in your holy spot. There’ll also be either earthquakes or lightning. Please have pity on me in Athens.

Antigone – Shh! Some old men are coming to have a look at you

Oedipus – OK. Let’s hide over there and hear what they say [Both hide in the corner]

[Chorus of Elders enter, searching around]

Chorus – Who was that? Where’d he go? Look for him. He must be from out of town. No local would hang around here. The awful women are here. I heard a rumor that someone would come. But I don’t know [Oedipus comes out]

Oedipus – I’m the guy. Don’t look at me. I’m a criminal. But I’ve received an even worse punishment. I’m blind and completely harmless, and dependent on others.

Chorus – Were you born blind? Anyway, as wretched as you are, you really ought not to be here. If you like to speak with us, let’s go somewhere else. [They move to another spot]

Oedipus – Sorry, I was tired and wanted a rest.

Chorus – This is better. You must understand what is holy and unholy here in Athens [Oedipus sits down]. Who are you? Where are you from?

Oedipus – I’m in exile and probably should not say more.

Chorus – Who are your family?

Oedipus – Oh, all right. I’m the son of Laius, of the family of Labdicidae… My name is Oedipus

Chorus – Oedipus? You’re him? [Screams and Wails]

Oedipus – Yes… Antigone, what’s going on?

Chorus – We don’t want you here. You must be a wicked man to have all that shit happen to you. Nothing but misery will result from your visit. Please leave.

Antigone – I see. You’ve had a rough time with your father being Oedipus but we really ought not to talk to you.

Oedipus – Athens is meant to be virtuous and that includes pity and help. Is my name enough to stop that? But my acts are nothing but suffering. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was ruined by others. You claim to honor the gods and that means charity. Gods please guide them to help me.

Chorus – I see your point but our rules must decide this.

Oedipus – Where is your lord?

Chorus – In the city. He’ll come once he’s heard it’s you.

Oedipus – I hope he won’t mind me

Antigone – I see a woman coming on a horse… I think I recognize her. It IS her! Ismene! [Ismene enters]

Ismene – I can’t believe you’re here! How wonderful!

Oedipus – Where are your brothers?

Ismene – It’s a sad story…

Oedipus – I was afraid that this would happen. I left the kingdom to them to take care of it and it’s my daughters who are doing all the heavy lifting.

Ismene – Creon is running the show while Polyneices and Eteocles are fighting over who’ll be ruler. Polyneices is in exile in Argos and is planning to fight back. The curse continues

Oedipus – I had hoped that the misery would end.

Ismene – The Oracle says you’re wanted both dead and alive – They want you dead to finish the curse. They want you alive to use you to win power. Creon wants to bury you on the edge of town – not in town – to avoid further curses and nearby to use your popularity and legitimacy

Oedipus – Bury? But I’m not dead. I want to be buried in my town. Fuck those boys. Fuck Creon too. I might be cursed but I never behaved like an animals. They didn’t even wait for me to die to start fighting. Poor girls. At least I have you. Sorry that this has happened to you.

Chorus – We can help with your situation. You’ll have to pray and sacrifice to cleanse yourself of this mess.

Oedipus – Sounds complicated. Can’t the girls do this? I’m old, weak and blind

Ismene – I’ll do it. Antigone, watch Dad [leaves]

Chorus – That’s some shitty life for you and your family [Theseus enters]

Theseus – All right. I’ve come to meet you, Oedipus. Just to make sure it’s you and it’s you. What do you want in Athens?

Oedipus – I’ve come to offer my services to you. Well, I wish to offer my support for you by giving you my burial site in Athens that will help Athens if it ever fights Thebes. Please let me stay here until I die

Theseus – This is a kind offer. You may stay as long as you like. You’ll be protected and fed [leaves]

Chorus – Oedipus, you’re going to love Athens

Antigone – Sounds great but here comes Creon

Oedipus – Elders, am I really safe with you?

Chorus – Of course

Creon – [enters] I see that you look worried Oedipus, don’t be. I’m not here to fight you. I’m too old for that shit. We want you to come home. It’s sad to see a king as a beggar. Please come home where you belong.

Oedipus – I wanted this. After all that shit in Thebes, I’ve been invited to stay here and now you want me back in Athens. It’s wrong to force an old man to go somewhere he doesn’t want to go. You don’t want me to go for my own sake. You want to use me against Thebes. I won’t do it.

Creon – Don’t be silly… Maybe I’ll take your daughters with me

Oedipus – Yo, chorus! Are you going to stop this?

Chorus – Creon, knock it off. This is fucked up!

Creon – [to guard] Grab them and take them away?

Chorus – What are you doing?

Creon – Don’t worry, I won’t touch Oedipus

Chorus – We have to rescue them [guards leave with Antigone]

Creon – You’ve got no one now. You deserve this, you rotten old man

Chorus – Back off!

Creon – You won’t do shit. I’m just going to take Oedipus and there’s nothing you can do

Chorus – This isn’t right

Creon – Fuck “right”, you weak punks [Theseus enters]

Theseus – What the fuck just happened?

Oedipus – Creon’s kidnapped my two girls

Theseus – [to attendants] Go make a sacrifice. [to Creon] Look, you little fucker. You bring them back and get the fuck out of here. You’re a disgrace. You’ve got no right to bring your war here and harass our citizens. Bring the girls back here.

Creon – I didn’t think you would care about Thebans. To think of a city harboring a criminal and a cursed man. It’s only because you outnumber us that I’ll considered it.

Oedipus – Creon, what are you doing? Taking advantage of an old man and his daughters for your purposes? What oracle wouldn’t doom your ass forever for this? I don’t deserve this. I’ve had a lot of shit go down in my life – none of it was my fault. You, on the other hand, take advantage of this situation. Theseus and Athens protect me because they are a better place and better people

Chorus – This is a good man, worth of our protection

Theseus – Well, first, let’s get the girls back. If we find your countrymen to be reluctant, it’ll be bad news

Creon – You only say this because you outnumber us

Theseus – Fuck off, then! Oedipus, please stay here. I’ll do everything I can to bring your children back

Oedipus – Thank you!! [Everyone but Oedipus and Chorus leave]

Chorus – Looks like Theseus and Athens are finally going to have it out with Creon and Thebes. It’ll be a tremendous triumph!!

Oedipus – Where? How? What? [Antigone, Ismene and Theseus enter]

Antigone – Oh, father! He saved us, Theseus and his men.

Oedipus – Is that you? Come here. Thank you, Theseus, for rescuing my daughters!! How wonderful!!

Theseus – You’re welcome. I prefer to let my actions do all the talking. I don’t like to boast. I have to talk to you. There’s a man from Argos praying in the altar of Poseidon who wants to talk to you. Do you have any family in Argos?

Oedipus – I know who it is. One of my sons… I don’t want to see him

Antigone – Please let him come. There’s no danger. He may change his mind if you speak to him.

Oedipus – Oh, all right. I can’t say “no” to you

Theseus – Don’t worry. I’ll be here just in case [leaves]

Chorus – Being born sucks. It’s better not to be born and have no pain. Shorter life is preferable to a long one, which has so much more pain. Only death brings peace.

Polyneices [enters] – What am I to do? Cry for my parents? My sisters? Myself? Look at father, dressed like a foreigner. What a fucked up life. Now he’s reduced to begging. I’m even worse because I brought it on myself… Father, won’t you even talk to me? Sisters? Can’t you help?

Antigone – Ask him yourself. What do you want?

Polyneices – I want to say why I’m here. I’m in exile from Thebes. When you left, I claimed my right to the throne but Eteocles ran me out with the support of the city. They say the curse on our family is to blame. I went to Argos and married the king’s daughter, Adrastus. I’ve been trying to round up an army to take Thebes back. I’ve come to ask for your support and blessing. I can’t win without it. The Oracle says the one you support will win.

Oedipus – Theseus wanted me to listen to you and respond. You were on the throne before your brother and you sent me into exile. I had to wander until I got here. You made me suffer and beg. Only with your sisters’ help have I survived. I disown you. Fate is watching you. You won’t take the city. You and your brother will kill each other and it’s a good thing, too. Get out of my life and never come back!!

Chorus – With that, I think you ought to go

Polyneices – I’ve wasted my time. Sisters please make sure I’m buried properly if the Oracle was right

Antigone – Take your armies, go back to Argos and stop fighting. What is there to gain by destroying Thebes?

Polyneices – It’s shameful to live in exile, especially by one’s family. I understand father’s wishes but I have to continue

Antigone – Will you tell your armies that your cause is doomed?

Polyneices – No, nobody would fight for me that way. Just see I’m buried right [leaves]

Chorus – This is awful but it’s fate – what heave wants [Thunder]

Oedipus – Someone go get Theseus. Please!

Antigone – What for?

Oedipus – Zeus is calling for me.

Chorus – This is some scary shit. Zeus is pissed off.

Oedipus – Girls, this is the end. Theseus? Are you there? [Thunder]

Chorus – More thunder

Oedipus – I hope he show up in time

Theseus – [enter] I came as quickly as I could. Is that all from Zeus? This must be serious.

Oedipus – My time is up and I’ll lead you to where I’ll die. Only you may know where I’ll be buried – tell your heirs and no one else! Daughters, Theseus, let’s go! [They leave]

Chorus – I hope he has a peaceful death and decent burial

Messenger – I have to announce Oedipus is gone

Chorus – What do you mean “gone”?

Messenger – Dead. Not murdered. He led his daughters and Theseus down a dark path into the earth. He bathed and put on special clothes. He said goodbye. There was another roll of thunder. The girls cried. Oedipus asked him to look after his daughters. The girls left and Theseus watched him disappear

[Antigone and Ismene enter]

Antigone – It’s so sad. I wish I were dead too. So sad and unfair

Chorus – Don’t worry. All that pain and suffering of his now over

Antigone – I want to go back to where he disappeared.

Ismene – We shouldn’t. We ought to go back to Thebes.

Antigone – There’ll be hell to pay there. [Theseus enters]

Theseus – Well, it’s all over now. What a crazy sight

Antigone – We want to go to his tomb

Theseus – You can’t. I promised to keep it a secret. If you really want, I can take you back to Thebes.


Watch the play! (Musical version):


The Theban Plays by Sophocles – Part 1 – “Oedipus the King”

Nightmare Fodder

Oedipus the King – Sophocles

[At the Royal Palace with Priest, Oedipus and suppliants with suppliant branches]

Oedipus – What’s with all the branches, incense and sickness? Fill me in, Priest

Priest – There’s a plague. The people are sick. The plants and animals are all dying. Please, do something about this before we all die

Oedipus – This is awful. I was told earlier and sent my brother-in-law, Creon, to Delphi to learn what to do about it. When he comes, we’ll know…

Priest – Here he comes now [Creon enters]

Creon – Well, I’ve just heard from the Oracle. We’ve got to get rid of a defiler who killed your predecessor, Laius. His murder must be avenged. Then the plague will be lifted.

Oedipus – How did he die?

Creon – He was killed on the way back from Delphi. Only one man of his group survived. He said it was robbers. Once Laius was killed, the plague set in. We could never find the killer. The Sphinx forced us to stop and focus on other things

Oedipus – We’ll get to the bottom of this. Apollo will guide us to the killer and release us from the plague

[Creon, Priest, Oedipus enter palace]

Chorus of Elders – Zeus, Apollo, Athena, Artemis, Bacchus… Help! Please heal out sick. Chase out the plague. Let the crops grow back. Stop killing our people. Make the animals and people fertile again

[Oedipus enters]

Oedipus – I heard you pray. We’ve got to find the murderer of Laius, and either kill him or exile him. If you know something, tell me. Don’t worry, you’ll be rewarded. If I find you’ve been hiding something, it’s your ass!! These are Apollo’s instructions. It’s the only way to come out of this thing.

Chorus – Perhaps you ought to talk to Teiresias, the blind prophet.

Oedipus – I’ve already sent for him. Here he is [Teiresias enters]. We’ve got a plague. Apollo says we’ve got to find Laius’s murderer, kill him and it’ll be lifted. Can you help?

Teiresias – I really shouldn’t say. You don’t want to hear it.

Oedipus – The gods are asking for your help. Please tell us.

Teiresias – No. Nothing good can come from it

Oedipus – You old fool. We need to know. The plague is killing us. Don’t make me force you or threaten you.

Teiresias – If you insist… This is all your fault. You’re the defiler

Oedipus – Are you mocking me?

Teiresias – No, just telling you the truth. The further down this path of inquiry you go, the worse you’ll find it to be. It’s because of your nearest of kin.

Oedipus – What do you mean?

Teiresias – Every question you ask and every answer you get will get you deeper in the shit. You ought to quit while you’re ahead.

Oedipus – I think you and Creon are in cahoots.

Teiresias – Creon and I are not your problem. You’re your own problem.

Oedipus – It seems you two are jealous of my power. I’m sad that Creon, whom I trusted, would do this with a blind old fool. The riddle needed me and a seer to solve but I think you’re doing it with Creon to get rid of me.

Chorus – Let’s cool down. We’re not getting anywhere like this.

Teiresias – It’s got nothing to do with Creon. I’m with Apollo, not Creon. But as for you… What do you know of your parents? Your mother? Your father? Your parents have cursed you. You’ll see what I mean in due course.

Oedipus – So this was all Creon’s fault. Get out of here, you old fool.

Teiresias – You’re the one who sent for me.

Oedipus – Well, I didn’t know you would talk such shit.

Teiresias – You think I’m a fool but your parents didn’t.

Oedipus – Who were they? You’re speaking in riddles.

Teiresias – And you’re not skilled enough to unravel them. You’ll out soon enough. Fortune will be the one to undo you, not me or Creon.

Oedipus – Get out.

Teiresias – Very well. One thing before I leave. You’ve been hurling threats and accusations about the murderer of Laius. He’s here in this city. Seemingly foreign but really a Theban. He sees now but he’ll soon be blind. He’s rich now but he’ll soon be poor. He’s committed incest and killed his father. Think it over. [Oedipus and Teiresias leave]

Chorus – Who was the murderer? Apollo will punish him in time. Things are doomed but Teiresias’s words are vague. Perhaps Oedipus is to blame but there’s no real evidence [Creon enters]

Creon – Listen up, everyone, I understand that the king has been accusing me of many things. Murder and, what’s worse, treason.

Chorus – I think he’s been under a lot of stress and strain lately. He doesn’t mean it.

Creon – What about all his lies about me and the seer?

Chorus – But here’s your chance to ask him yourself. [Oedipus enters]

Oedipus – Why are you here? To kill me and steal my throne? You little shit. How long has it been since Laius’s murder?

Creon – Many years.

Oedipus – And was Teiresias a seer before the murder?

Creon – Yes and a very reputable one

Oedipus – But he never mentioned me as the murderer?

Creon – Not when I was around

Oedipus – Why didn’t he say something before the murder?

Creon – I have no idea. I can’t even speculate on that

Oedipus – When you two spoke, did he mention me killing Laius? It’s not possible. I’ve never met the man, let alone killed him. Why are you two trying to overthrow me?

Creon – Look, you’re married to my sister. I’ve got a fantastic life in your court. I have all the benefits of high living and none of the responsibilities of being king. I’ve got it made. Why would I want to change things now? If you don’t believe me, go and ask the Oracle yourself.

Chorus – Oedipus, he’s telling the truth.

Oedipus – This is a conspiracy. I intend to have you two killed. [Iocasta enters]

Chorus – Maybe Iocasta can settle things

Iocasta – What’s this all about? This spat isn’t helping our plague

Creon – Oedipus claims that he’ll kill me or exile me.

Oedipus – I’ve caught him conspiring against me

Chorus – He’s denied your claim and you’re accusing your friend of betrayal without any reason to suspect him. Don’t base your decisions on wild rumors.

Oedipus – So, you want our downfall too? The land is plagued. If you all stand up for him, both I and this city are doomed. Is that what you want?

Creon – You’re wrong and I’ve had enough of this shit [leaves]

Iocasta – What’s this all about?

Oedipus – Creon’s seer said I killed Laius. This is just a plot against me.

Iocasta – Do you have evidence of that? Does he?

Oedipus – His seer said so while he just keeps quiet.

Iocasta – Don’t listen too much to seers. A seer once said to Laius that his own son would end up killing him. So, we had our new born baby killed. Since he was killed by robbers and the baby was dead, the prophecy cannot be true. This murder happened somewhere out on a road where 3 roads met.

Oedipus – Oh shit!

Iocasta – What?

Oedipus – Where were these 3 roads?

Iocasta – Phocis. The road leads to Delphi and Daulia

Oedipus – Oh, fuck! Zeus what have you done? What did he look like? How tall was he?

Iocasta – About your height and build – slightly greying

Oedipus – Oh fuck! How many were in his party?

Iocasta – 5 of them in 1 carriage. There was only 1 survivor, our servant then. I think he’s a shepherd now

Oedipus – I have to tell you… My father was Polybus of Corinth and my mother was a Dorian, Meropé. When I was young, a stranger told me they weren’t my real parents. I asked them about it and they denied it. But it always stuck in the back of my mind. At Delphi, I was told that I would kill my father and marry my mother. I ran away from home to avoid this coming true. I ran into a group of travelers. The servant tried to run me off the road. I hit him and the rest of them came after me. I killed all of them. I know it’s not my fault that they attacked me but what if he was my father? I killed my father and ended up marrying his wife

Chorus – It’s a scary thought but we’re not completely sure of it yet

Oedipus – If this servant’s story doesn’t match yours then, I’ll be fine. But if not, then I’ll know it was my fault

Iocasta – The whole city knows the story. If he contradicts himself, there’s reason to doubt the story and therefore the prophecy was bullshit [They leave]

Chorus – It looks like prophecies are fading in importance and men don’t believe them anymore. Apollo isn’t glorified anymore and worship is dying. We’re suffering the consequences for that

[Iocasta enters with suppliant branch and incense]

Iocasta – Please rid us of this plague, Apollo. Oedipus won’t listen to me and the whole city is panicking because he’s panicking. [Prays]

[Messenger enters and speaks to Chorus]

Messenger – Is this Oedipus’s home? Where can I find him? I’ve got some news from Corinth.

Iocasta – Yes, he’s inside. I’m his wife. What’s the news?

Messenger – Oedipus will be king of Corinth. His father, Polybus is dead from old age.

Iocasta – So, the prophecy was wrong. How wonderful! [Oedipus enters]

Oedipus – What’s going on?

Iocasta – This man from Corinth brings news of your father’s death from old age.

Oedipus – Poor man. I guess the Oracle was wrong after all. But I’m still worried about sleeping with my mother.

Iocasta – Well, don’t do it then. We don’t need to fear prophecies and gods. We have our own lives to live with our own purposes.

Oedipus – My mother’s still alive though.

Messenger – She’s not your real mother. I actually found you in the woods and gave you to them when you were a baby since they were childless. I remember. You had your ankles pinned together.

Oedipus – Where did I come from?

Messenger – That I don’t know. Ask one of Laius’s servants. He’d know because he gave you to me. I’d recognize him

Oedipus – Elders, do you know who this is?

Chorus – No, but Iocasta would

Oedipus – Well?

Iocasta – Well, what? I wasn’t paying attention

Oedipus – Who was the servant?

Iocasta – You’d do well not to carry out this search

Oedipus – Who was the servant?

Iocasta – Please don’t!! [Leaves]

Chorus – Iocasta is crying for what will come of this

Oedipus – Come what may. I have to find out. I have to face my destiny

Chorus – Apollo knows. We’ll know by the end of tomorrow

Oedipus – This old man might know [Herdsman enters]. Messenger, is this the man?

Messenger – Yes.

Oedipus – Herdsman. Did you ever serve Laius?

Herdsman – Yes, mostly herding flocks in Cithaeron and near it

Oedipus – Do you recognize this man, the Corinthian messenger?

Herdsman – No, not really

Messenger – Of course you do. We had our flocks on the same mountain for 3 years. Don’t you remember?

Herdsman – Vaguely. But that was a long time ago.

Messenger – This might ring a bell… You gave me a baby to raise as my own.

Herdsman – I don’t remember that.

Messenger – Of course, you do

Herdsman – No I don’t. Shut up!

Oedipus – Do you remember that?

Herdsman – He doesn’t know what he’s talking about

Messenger – Of course I do

Oedipus – Did you give him a child to raise?

Herdsman – Yes and I regret it

Oedipus – Where did you get the child?

Herdsman – Please don’t ask!!

Oedipus – Where did you get the child?

Herdsman – From the house of Laius

Oedipus – From a servant?

Herdsman – No, from the queen. She gave it to me to kill to avoid the prophecies coming true

Oedipus – Why did you give it to this man?

Herdsman – Because I couldn’t kill a baby. I thought the prophecy wouldn’t come true

Oedipus – It did come true. I killed my father and married my own mother [Leaves]

Chorus – Oedipus’s fate is sad. You thought your life was going so well and now it’s all fallen apart. Your father’s curse has doomed you [2nd Messenger enters]

2nd Messenger – I have to announce that Iocasta has hanged herself out of exasperation of the fulfilment of the prophecy. Oedipus took her brooches and gouged out his own eyes. He’s blind now [Oedipus enters]

Chorus – What a terrible thing to see. I can’t bear to look

Oedipus – What a shitty fate. Why did this have to happen to me. It’s so cruel

Chorus – Why did you blind yourself?

Oedipus – I know you. I recognize your voices. Apollo brought all of this shit down on my. I can’t bear to look at anything anymore from this world. I didn’t want any of this, it was my destiny. I was doomed before I was even born

Chorus – Perhaps you’d be better off dead

Oedipus – Why didn’t that shepherd kill me? Why did I kill Iocasta? Elders, please kill me. Or at least get me out of Thebes.

Chorus – Creon will rule in your place. [Creon enters]

Oedipus – I can’t be around him. Ah, Creon. Please look after my daughters. My sons are old enough to fend for themselves [Antigone and Ismene enter]. Girls, your father’s cursed and your mother is dead. Creon will look after you when I leave. I’d better get going. I need to leave Thebes so the curse and plague are lifted.

Chorus – People used to look at Oedipus with envy. They don’t do that anymore.


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The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 3 – “The Eumenides”

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 3 – “The Eumenides”

  • [At Delphi in front of Apollo’s Temple]
  • Prophetess – This temple has had so many seers and gods to help us see. I’ll see all the people in turn [Goes in and then quickly rushes out]. OH SHIT!!! What did I just see? I can’t even stand. I walked in and saw a man covered in blood and bunch of Gorgons. Not quite Gorgons but close enough to scare me. Fuck that shit. Apollo can deal with this on his on [Leaves].
  • [Doors open. Orestes and Apollo come out]
  • Apollo – I won’t let you down. I’ll protect you. But these wicked things are a bastard. The men don’t like them. The gods don’t like them. They’ll follow you around forever. Find a way to get to Athens. We’ll find judges and put a case together. I’ll tell them it’s my doing this mess.
  • Orestes – Of course. Please guide and protect me.
  • Apollo – I’ll put Hermes on the case [Orestes leaves. Apollo goes into the temple. Clytaemnestra’s ghost comes out].
  • Ghost – Sleeping on the job? How can you avenge my death while sleeping? I’ve done my part with the sacrifices. WAKE UP!!! [Hears whimpering] Cry all you want but you’ve lost him. His friends are helping him. How can you sleep when a man’s murdered his mother?
  • A Fury – (Asleep) That’s the one, dog…
  • Ghost – Hunting like a dog in your dreams? No success in your dreams either? Get up and do what you’re meant to do, you lazy fools!! [Leaves]
  • Chorus of Furies – Someone’s tricked us. How humiliating! It must have been Apollo. Those gods always get in the way. Orestes must be punished for violating the laws of heaven. We’ll follow him until the end of time to make him pay. I can’t believe Apollo would use his temple and powers to help him and stop us.
  • Apollo [Enters with bow and arrow] Get out! You’ve got no right to be here. Get out or I’ll stick one of these up your asses. I’ll have your heads chopped off and eyes gouged out. The gods hate everything about you. FUCK OFF!
  • Chorus – Please listen. This is all your doing. You told him to do it.
  • Apollo – To avenge his father’s death.
  • Chorus – He came to the temple red-handed
  • Apollo – I cleansed him. But you aren’t allowed near my temple.
  • Chorus – It’s our duty to chase mother-murderers
  • Apollo – What about those who kill their husbands?
  • Chorus – Not as bad as killing your family
  • Apollo – Marriage is every bit as holy as family. If there’s a murder and it’s not taken care of, you can’t go after Orestes. Somehow, you’re dead set on getting him.
  • Chorus – We’ll never stop
  • Apollo – It’ll only get worse for you
  • Chorus – We smell his blood. We’re off [They leave].
  • Apollo – I’ll protect him. If I don’t, it’ll be bad news for me.
  • [A year or so later in Athens at Athena’s Temple]
  • Orestes – Athena, I’m here. Apollo told me to come. Please help! I’ve come a long way [Crouches behind a statue of Apollo]
  • Chorus – [Enters] I think we’ve got him. He’s somewhere around here. We can’t lose him. There he is! Mother-murderer. Come on. This is the only way… Come on
  • Orestes – The bloods been cleansed by Apollo. I haven’t harmed anyone. I’ve come to Athena to put this to an end.
  • Chorus – No matter what Athena and Apollo say, we’re taking you. You’ll be ripped apart and there’ll be nothing left of you. Fate had ordered us grab you and hold you to account. If we don’t do this all of heaven’s laws will have no meaning.
  • Athena – [Enters] Did someone call? I was over in Troy
  • Chorus – We’ll fill you in. We’re the children of Night. We live in hell
  • Athena – That explains the look.
  • Chorus – We’re looking for mother-killers
  • Athena – Is that what you’re looking for?
  • Chorus – He’s been hard to lay a hand on. He killed his mother but claims innocence
  • Athena – Maybe for a good reason?
  • Chorus – What good reason could there be?
  • Athena – I can think of at least one
  • Chorus – He won’t confess to it
  • Athena – Well, bullying him doesn’t prove his guilt
  • Chorus – Talk to him yourself
  • Athena – And you’ll accept my judgment?
  • Chorus – Of course
  • Athena – Tell me, young man. Let’s find out who you are and what’s going on in this story. What’s your defense and that?
  • Orestes – I’m no murderer. This is the blood of a swine. I’m Orestes of Argos, son of Agamemnon. After Troy, he came home only to be murdered by his wife, my mother. I wasn’t there at the time but I returned to avenge his death. I killed my mother by order from Apollo. He threatened me with all kinds of torture if I didn’t do it. Please judge me.
  • Athena – Well, it’s not as simple as that, especially with a story as wild as this one. It calls for some sort of trial. I’ll choose the best of my people to hear the whole thing [Leaves]
  • Chorus – I guess we’ll do it this way. We’ll have to be quite good at convincing those men that he’s guilty. But this looks like the end of how we mete out justice. Murderers won’t be chased down anymore – they’ll be tried
  • [At Areopagus]
  • Athena – Let everyone know how this is done. There’ll be silence and those I’ve chosen will judge
  • Apollo – [Enters]
  • Chorus – Oh no. Here to meddle again?
  • Apollo – I’m here to testify on behalf of Orestes that I cleanse him of the blood. Athena, let’s get started
  • Athena – Furies, you may start you questioning
  • Chorus – Orestes, did you kill your mother?
  • Orestes – Yes
  • Chorus – How did you do it?
  • Orestes – I cut her throat with my sword
  • Chorus – Who got you to do that?
  • Orestes – Apollo. He’s a witness for me. I don’t regret it at all
  • Chorus – No. Maybe the jury will change your mind
  • Orestes – My father is helping me from the grave
  • Chorus – You killed your mother and are counting on ghosts?
  • Orestes – She was guilty of 2 crimes – killing my father and killing her husband
  • Chorus – Her bloody death exonerated her. But as for you…
  • Orestes – Why didn’t you go after her when she was alive?
  • Chorus – We only go after blood family crimes
  • Orestes – She killed my father
  • Chorus – But she’s your mother. There is no bond closer
  • Orestes – Apollo, please let them know your side of this
  • Apollo – I’ve been told to speak for Zeus, whose will is the greatest
  • Chorus – So, Zeus was behind this? He wouldn’t take into account the murder of Orestes’s mother in avenging his father?
  • Apollo – Not just a man – the holder of Zeus’s scepter. Athena, you know what that means. Clytaemnestra did it in such a treacherous way. Welcoming him in lovingly. After his bath, she wrapped him in a robe and killed him.
  • Chorus – Zeus is upset about that? He put his own father in chains. That makes no sense
  • Apollo – You’re assholes. There’s a difference between putting a man in chains and murdering him. You can do chains but not murder
  • Chorus – That’s all to save your man’s hide. Will he still live in Atreus’s house? Use public altars?
  • Apollo – Mother is a technical term. She gave him birth as a host to a baby. Zeus created Athena from his own forehead without a mother. Orestes is a fine man. Let’s get this over with, Athena
  • Athena – Will we tally the votes? Are you done with the case?
  • Chorus – We don’t have anything else
  • Apollo – Go and vote your conscience
  • Athena – All right, Athenians. This is the way we’re going to handle matters like this from now on. At Areopagus – Rock of Ares. These things spiral out of control if not handled well. Any of your colonies should do the same
  • [While the jury vote, they talk]
  • Chorus – Jury, don’t cross us. We’re no poets
  • Apollo – Remember, I’m a god and can do very, very nasty things…
  • Chorus – Apollo, you can’t bully people around anymore or promise them immortality
  • Apollo – I was helping a worshipper when he needed it
  • Chorus – Well, your actions have changed the way we handle justice now
  • Apollo – Well, better than your vigilante shit,
  • Chorus – Your boy has brown down millennia of our way of life.
  • Athena – If things aren’t settled by this vote, I’ll be casting the tie-breaks. I’ll vote for Orestes. I’m not really into motherhood since I’ve never been married and don’t have a mother myself…
  • Orestes – Apollo, I’m getting nervous
  • Chorus – We are too
  • Apollo – All right, let’s count these up [Counts them]
  • Athena – The count is even and I’m casting the deciding vote. Looks like he’s not guilty
  • Orestes – Oh, Athena. You’ve saved me and my people. Now I can take my rightful place as lord of Argos. Thank you, Apollo. Thank you, father. I swear never to wage war on Athens. Any man who does so will suffer [Leaves]
  • Chorus – So, gods. Out with the old way and in with the new. Vengeance of venom over and done with?
  • Athena – Don’t be too down. You got half the votes. It was really just down to Apollo telling him to do it that tipped the scales. You’ll have a place in Athens.
  • Chorus – So, gods. Out with the old way and in with the new. Vengeance of venom over and done with? [Repeat of last line]
  • Athena – I have faith that Zeus will give us all the justice we deserve. This is a much less violent and chaotic way.
  • Chorus – We can’t be cheered up
  • Athena – I’ll be patient with you in this transition for you. But this is how we’re going to do things from now on.
  • Chorus – We won’t be cheered up
  • Athena – Look, I’m letting you stay but I won’t let you go around bullying my people. Take it or leave it. I’m being nice to you mostly because you’re my elders… Well?
  • Chorus – What will we be doing?
  • Athena – Rather than punishing people, Why not go around trying to encourage virtue and reason into people? It’s much more pleasant. You can harass bad people but nothing more
  • Chorus – Sounds nice. I guess we’ll do our best not to ruin Athens. We pray there will be no more honor killings
  • Athena – See? Things will be even better than before for everyone!

Watch the play!

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 2 – “Choephoroe (Libation Bearers)”

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 2 – “Choephoroe (Libation Bearers)”

Choephoroe (The Libation Bearers) by Aeschylus

[At Agamemnon’s Tomb] [Orestes and Pylades enter]

  • Orestes – Hermes, send my father a message [Snips a lock of his own hair]. Take this for Argos [Snips another lock]. This is for my mourning for you [Throws them on the tomb]. I wasn’t able to be here for your burial and mourn. What’s this? Women dressed up carrying libations to appease father’s death? Is that my sister, Electra? What’s going on [Orestes and Pylades withdraw]
  • [Electra and Chorus enter]
  • Chorus – The queen’s sent us here to pour this on the grave. She woke up last night from a nightmare and sent us down here to quench the spirits’ thirst for peace and blood. What will make the blood be unspilled? The blood’s been spilt and the dead will stay dead. The gods are upset that the king has been murdered and a tyrant rules us
  • Electra – Ladies, let’s be frank with each other. How is this helping my father? Mother doesn’t send us here out of love. This is an insult to father. He should be given what he deserves. I know you feel the same way. Let’s discuss it.
  • Chorus – Sure. This is a horrible thing to have to do. We were loyal to Agamemnon and we hate Aegisthus. But remember that Orestes is still out there. Let’s pray he’ll come back.
  • Electra – Is that right to ask of the gods.
  • Chorus – It’s be returning the favor.
  • Electra – Hermes, send him a message. Please help me and Orestes. We must make things right. Orestes is in exile and I’m a slave girl. Sent Orestes home to do this. I can’t do it. The pair are yukking it up. Here’s a drink for Agamemnon
  • Chorus – Let the libations do their work
  • Electra – Let’s hope that does the trick. What’s this?!?! There’s a lock of hair on the tomb. I can’t tell whose, though. No one would do this but me. It looks like mine but I know that it isn’t
  • Chorus – Could it be from Orestes?
  • Electra – It must be. But he wouldn’t dare show his face around here. Who else would this belong to? Not mother. How can I know if it’s from him? This hope is driving me crazy
  • Orestes (Comes out) – Your prayers have been answered.
  • Electra – Who the hell are you?
  • Orestes – It’s been so long you must not know. You prayed for me
  • Electra – How do you know what I’ve prayed for
  • Orestes – I heard you. I’m Orestes, your brother
  • Electra – This must be a trick. Is that really you?
  • Orestes – You don’t recognize my face but you recognize my hair. See, that’s where it was (points to tufts of hair). This shirt you wove for me. This belt you embroidered for me… But I was thinking about what you were saying. Some of our family want us dead.
  • Electra – There’s only you left to fix things. Please, Zeus, let us see this thing through.
  • Orestes – Zeus, we’re orphans. We are weak and need help. We’re outcasts and blocked from our birth rights. Nourish us and build up our strength.
  • Chorus – Hush! Someone might hear you and squash the whole thing. There are spies everywhere
  • Orestes – Apollo is helping. He ordered me to carry on with this blood grudge. I would be punished if I didn’t carry this out… torture, disease, unspeakable pain, etc. I’ve got to listen to the oracle and do as I was told. But even without all that, I’d still do it out of grief for my father… to kill the two women in the palace – the other is no man.
  • Chorus – Zeus must help you. This debt needs repaying.
  • Orestes – Father, help us. We need to make everything right. It would’ve been better if he’d been killed in battle in Troy. It would’ve been an honorable death.
  • Chorus – The dead demand revenge and blood dues. His honor was maligned by his murder and lack of a proper burial
  • Electra – Lesser people killed him – they need to die
  • Chorus – If Apollo is on your side, the sadness will turn to joy. This blood will appease Agamemnon. Let your hatred guide you
  • Electra – Zeus need to help us kill them and return peace and justice
  • Chorus – It’s the law. When blood is split, the killer must be killed.
  • Orestes – With the help of heaven, I’ll them both. If I need to die, then I’ll die
  • Electra – She’s wanted nothing to do with me since. I’ve been shut out of the family with no connection to my brother. I’ll gladly watch her die
  • Chorus – Clytaemnestra’s dream was of her giving birth to a snake, her trying to breastfeed it and it biting her breast. Out came curdled milk. She though the libations would stop these dreams
  • Orestes – I’m the snake. She’ll die by my bite. I’ll show up the palace as a stranger passing on news of the death of Orestes. Chorus, you hang around outside. Sis, you be there, too
  • [Orestes and Pylades leave]
  • Chorus – It’s amazing how cursed they are and how determined they are to fix it. Poor kids… Oh, gods… please help them lift the curse from the House of Atreus
  • [Orestes and Pylades arrive. Orestes knocks many times]
  • Orestes – Anyone going to open? Is Aegistus not open to strangers? Come now
  • Doorkeeper – Who are you? Where are you from?
  • Orestes – Call your masters. I’ve got some news. I thought that travelers would be welcome. Get the mistress or rather, the master. I’d rather speak between men.
  • Clytaemnestra – [Comes to the door with Electra] What’s going on? I’ll give you whatever you need – bath, food, place to sleep. If there’s news, I’ll grab the men to hear it
  • Orestes – I come from Phocis. I was headed this way and Strophius asked me to relay a message about Orestes. He’s dead. He wants to know what to do about the body
  • Clytaemnestra – This is awful. The blood grudge continues… I tried to keep him out of this. In vain, it seems.
  • Orestes – I’d prefer to give news. I think I’d get better treatment.
  • Clytaemnestra­­–- It’s not your fault. Someone was bound to give us this news. Electra, see that he is taken care of and is welcome
  • (Electra, Orestes and Pylades enter the palace)
  • Clytaemnestra – I’ll have to pass the word on to Aegisthus and discuss… (Enters palace)
  • Chorus – How long will this take? I can’t wait to hear the screams and see the blood!
  • [Nurse comes out]
  • Nurse – Clytaemnestra told me to get Aegisthus to meet some strangers and hear the news. She had a sad face bit her eyes gave her away… It’s sad for the family but not for those 2. This house is nothing but bad news and sadness. I could handle the prior deaths. But Orestes I raised from birth. All those funny moments made him so dear to me. Now he’s dead. Poor guy
  • Chorus – How will Aegisthus come? Alone? Armed? Accompanied?
  • Nurse – Armed with guards. Is there something more to this than I know? [Leaves]
  • Chorus – Zeus, please bring justice to this house. See that Orestes can follow through. Apollo, make sure no snags occur. Bring us joy
  • Aegisthus – [Enters] I here there’s news – Orestes is dead. Can I believe it? Can you fill me in on the details?
  • Chorus – We only just heard. The messengers will know more
  • Aegisthus – Yes. I’ll get more on this. I wonder if this is just a bunch of bullshit. I’ve heard some whoppers in my time [Leaves].
  • Chorus – Well, here goes nothing. Let’s hope that it a goes off without a hitch. All that planning… But the gods are on our side
  • [Screaming from inside the palace]
  • Chorus – There. Who do you think that was? Let’s go see. Nobody will suspect that we’d been involved in the planning
  • [Inside the palace]
  • Doorkeeper – Aegisthus has been killed. We’ve got to rally the guards. Go see about Clytaemnestra. She’s the next one. This is the blood grudge all over gain
  • Clytaemnestra – Oh shit! We’ve been tricked. Get my axe. The shit’s on!!
  • [Orestes and Pylades enter]
  • Orestes – You’re the one I’m after. The other one’s had enough
  • Clytaemnestra – My love! Aww, fuck!
  • Orestes – Oh, so you loved someone after all. You’ve been in the same grave soon. You can’t betray him with your lies there.
  • Clytaemnestra – Oh, my child. Look at your mother who bore you, held you and loved you
  • Orestes – Pylades, what should I do? Should I be nice to her?
  • Pylades – Remember what Apollo said he’d do to you if you didn’t kill her? Do you want to get on his wrong side?
  • Orestes – You’re right. Come here you. I’m going to kill you on top of the man you thought better than my father.
  • Clytaemnestra – I nursed you and I want to grow old by your side
  • Orestes – You killed my father and you want to live with me.
  • Clytaemnestra – It was destiny
  • Orestes – The same destiny that will have me kill you
  • Clytaemnestra – You ought to beware of the curse my murder you’ll get
  • Orestes – You sent me away and sold me off
  • Clytaemnestra – They were friends. I got nothing in return
  • Orestes – Too shame to think of
  • Clytaemnestra – Your father was no saint either
  • Orestes – He was suffering in Troy while you were safe at home
  • Clytaemnestra – We suffered while he was gone
  • Orestes – You had food, safety and comfort
  • Clytaemnestra – Even so, are you going to kill your own mother?
  • Orestes – Your own actions condemned you
  • Clytaemnestra – You’ll be haunted for this
  • Orestes – I’m already haunted by my father’s blood grudge
  • Clytaemnestra – I plea for mercy and my own son is deaf
  • Orestes – Like you were at my father’s death. That’s when you really started to die
  • Clytaemnestra – You were the snake I bore and raised in my dream!
  • Orestes – That dream was just your guilty conscience talking to you
  • [He drags her into the palace. Pylades follows]
  • Chorus – Even though this is just, it’s still sad. Orestes needed to fix this so it didn’t carry on forever. It started in Troy, continued with Agamemnon’s death. Apollo guided Orestes here to kill the 2 of them. This house is finally free. Zeus guided him in the act. The house will rise again and time will bring this about
  • (Orestes and Pylades stand over the bodies of Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus)
  • Orestes – Take a look at your oppressors – tyrants and murderers. Loyal to each other to the end. They killed together and died together. Judge their crimes. Take out that net and put it over them so that father can see them. It still has his blood it. When I stand trial – know that I was right to do this… My mother was the real villainess. The net still has his blood. I’d rather be childless than have a wife like her
  • Chorus – He bled in this but you’re suffering. This will make a man of you.
  • Orestes – This was all her work. The blood, the trap. This is the same grave dirge father needed. But sadness will follow me forever
  • Chorus – No joy or misery will last forever itself. But miser will always be a part of your life.
  • Orestes – Before it gets to me, I want you to know that I was right in this. Apollo told me to do this and leave guiltless. Argos… watch and remember… But I have to go
  • Chorus – You’ve brought our freedom back. No one will fight you over this
  • Orestes – Look… Gorgons… Snakes for hair. This is the curse my mother promised me. Look at how many there are.
  • Chorus – You’re imagining things. Apollo will help you. Go see him and he’ll help you [Orestes leaves]. Let’s hope that the gods help him. There have been 3 winds in this story. 1 – It came when Thyestes ate his children. 2 – Came when Agamemnon was murdered. 3 – Orestes avenged Agamemnon’s death but now gloom has set in… Is it deliverance or doom? When will it stop?

Watch the Play!

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 1 – “Agamemnon”

Vengeance is a dish served bloody as fuck… and with pickles.

The Oresteia by Aeschylus – Part 1 – “Agamemnon”


  • Watchman – I’ve been watching for a beacon for the last 12 months. Some sign of goings-on in the war. Victory or defeat or the arrival of Agamemnon. I see a signal of victory over Troy. Agamemnon will be happy to come home but things aren’t so rosy.
  • Chorus – The Achaens have been gone for 10 years. The war had been dragging on. Agamemnon’s wife, Clytaemnestra, is still upset about the sacrifice of their faughter for smooth sailing to Troy. The wind stopped them from leaving the city. The sacrifice of a virgin was the only way – his own daughter – Iphigenia. Calchas predicted it all.
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – I hope this good news will make all the sadness go away. Greece defeated Troy last night. Hephaestus sent flames from city beacon to city beacon to tell the news (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – It seems that Zeus is wrapping up this whole mess. Let’s recount the reasons for the war. Paris chose Venus as the prettiest goddess. Minerva got pissed off about this. Venus couldn’t have Paris so she gave him the most beautiful woman on earth, Helen. The Argives didn’t like this, so they got up and went to fight the Trojans.
  • Herald (ENTERS) – I’m so excited to be home. They managed to survive and win, although the gods tried their best to fight it.
  • Chorus – Welcome home. We’ve been so gloomy without you. We’d better not say why.
  • Herald – You gloomy? Our voyage there and back was bad. We’ve been fighting for 10 years. It rained all the time. It was hot, cold, wet, roasting. I’m covered in lice. It was so horrible. But it’s all over. We won. Why bother doing a balance sheet between the good and bad. We won and that’s what matters.
  • Chorus – Well, then. I guess we old men can learn new things from young pups such as yourself. Maybe the rest of Argos should know about this.
  • Clytamnestra (ENTERS) – I’ve heard the news but I can still hardly believe it. They said I was silly to get excited about a beacon. I’ve been making non-stop sacrifices. But I’ll hear the whole story from the man himself. We’ll pick up exactly where we left off (LEAVES).
  • Chorus – We now… Is Menelaus coming home too?
  • Herald – He’s missing at the moment. There was a storm. I don’t know anything more… I was supposed to be the bearer of good news and now I see that it’s not the best of times. The curse of the House of Atreus isn’t over yet. Zeus is up to something. (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – Zeus had planned this before Helen was even born. It was always going to be this way. Argos has suffered as a result. Troy suffered for Paris’s lust. All of this shit for lust, hubris, justice and lack of justice.
  • Agamemnon (ENTERS)
  • Chorus – Conqueror of Troy. Son of Atreus. How should we call you? We had doubts about the war but now that you’re here, you must be praised. We’ve been faithful to you but not everybody else has been.
  • Agamemnon – Thanks to the gods and Argos. They’ve helped me travel safely and conquer Troy. There’s nothing left of the place for their kidnapping of Helen. Many people aren’t born without envy and disloyalty. Only Odysseus, if he’s still alive… We must call a council and the healers. Now, I’ll enter the palace to thank the gods.
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – I wish to announce my love for the king. It was horrible to hear the rumors. I sent Orestes, our son to stay with Strophius because the rumors spoke of a coup. I’m so glad the torture of your absence is over. I’m free now.
  • Agamemnon – Your words are kind but I can’t walk on that. It’s for the gods and them only. I’ve tempted fate enough. Please let’s tone it down.
  • Clytaemnestra – Please! You’re nearly a god. It’s only fitting. What would Priam have done?
  • Agamemnon – He would’ve walked on it. I don’t expect you to understand. But you really shouldn’t insist. It’s not right!
  • Clytaemnestra – Please! For me! For the people!
  • Agamemnon – Oh, all right (TAKES OFF BOOTS AND WALKS ON THE ROBES). Please, gods. Don’t think too badly of me for this. Servants, take care of Cassandra and my treasure
  • Clytaemnestra – The purple dye came from the sea. I’ve got enough of it to pay 1000x a king’s ransom. It’s only fitting for a warrior and king like you. I’ll fulfill the will of Zeus.
  • Chorus – Oh, no! This can’t be good. It’s not sure what’ll happen but I can’t feel a song of doom playing
  • Clytaemnestra (ENTERS) – You, too, Cassandra. Zeus was generous allowing you to live and be a servant to such a king. Come inside…
  • Chorus – Go on. Your mistress is ordering you.
  • Clytaemnestra – You fool. Let’s go… Hmm… Maybe I can persuade her another way… (NICELY) Cassandra, let’s go inside… Nothing… (LOUDLY) Come on!! I haven’t got all day. I’ve got sacrifices to tend to. Make a noise at least!
  • Chorus – It’s no use. She doesn’t know our language…
  • Clytaemnestra – She must have gone insane watching her people and city burn. Whatever… (LEAVES)
  • Chorus – I pity her. She was a princess and now she’s a slave in a foreign land. But them’s the breaks.
  • Cassandra – Apollo! Apollo!
  • Chorus – Quiet. He’s not going to help you
  • Cassandra – Apollo! Apollo!
  • Chorus – Again? He’s not going to like that
  • Cassandra – Apollo, god of all but only death to me. Why have you brought me here to this place?
  • Chorus – This is the house of Atreus. Don’t you know?
  • Cassandra – This is the house of those who kill their own kin. Blood has been split here and will be again. I smell a child’s flesh. Now another crime is afoot for someone who should be dear
  • Chorus – I get the past part. But the future part?
  • Cassandra – A bathing husband will be murdered soon. She’ll kill her lord but helped by another
  • Chorus – Oh shit. This is bad. I feel doom coming.
  • Cassandra – The monarch of the herd will be killed by his mate. He’ll be impaled by her horns. And I’ll be getting a dose of it too. Why didn’t you bring me here, Agamemnon? To die by your side? Damn you, Paris. Your lust has doomed all Trojans and Troy was doomed to be destroyed. I’ll be dead soon. My father, my city, my family all burnt. I feel it too (WAKES UP).
  • Chorus – What’s that all about?
  • Cassandra –A long time ago there was a human sacrifice here in this house. The family is haunted by this. But nobody will ever listen to me. I’m called a prophetess of lies even though I speak the truth.
  • Chorus – The first part is true. How do you know all this?
  • Cassandra – Apollo gave me prophetic powers. He was in love with me and I promised to marry him but I broke that promise. Because I was false to him he made me false to everyone. I predicted the fall of Troy but nobody believed me.
  • Chorus – Well, we believe you…
  • Cassandra (IN A TRANCE) – A cowardly lion will have his lioness kill his prey for him in her master’s room. As Troy was doomed, this house is doomed. I will be too. Only then will I be believed.
  • Chorus – She must mean something about Thyestes. I’m not sure though.
  • Cassandra – No! Agamemnon!
  • Chorus – Easy there, girl. We’ll appeal to the gods. No man would dare kill him.
  • Cassandra – Not a man! Why aren’t you listening to me?!?!
  • Chorus – If you can foresee this why aren’t you running away?
  • Cassandra – It’d only be delaying the inevitable. You’ll be witnesses to our death. Just one favor, please. When the time comes for punishing these murderers, let it be done quickly and thoroughly (LEAVES).
  • Chorus – What was that? … That was the king being murdered… We ought to do something… Let’s break in and save him… This will lead to tyranny… Our way of living will die… All this talking won’t break him back from the dead… Will we sit around and let ourselves be ruled by murderers? … Was it really murder? … We need proof…
  • Clytaemnestra – I’ve been dreaming of this moment. I faked my love for him and struck him twice while he was in his robe. He cried twice. The third time, he died spraying blood everywhere. The sweetest shower. So, then, old men… This is fitting for a man who put so much blood and bitterness in our lives.
  • Chorus – How dare you revel in the murder of our king?
  • Clytaemnestra –Whatever you think, he’s dead and I killed him
  • Chorus – You’re possessed. You’ve cursed your people for this. You must leave, you evil woman
  • Clytaemnestra – You never condemned the sacrifice of our daughter just for smooth sailing. You did nothing to punish him. Now you judge me? Don’t even try.
  • Chorus – Strange that you’d be proud of a murder. Fate will doom you to be honorless, defenseless and friendless at death.
  • Clytaemnestra – This is all out of vengeance. I’m not afraid. But I’m not defenseless or friendless. Aegisthus will be there for me. Don’t lecture me about loyalty. Agamemnon was banging everything that moved in Troy… Chryseis, Cassandra… And now they’re dead.
  • Chorus – Poor Agamemnon. You had a huge burden on you. You had to avenge the kidnapping of Helen. Argos won and you survived. Troy was destroyed. Only to be murdered by your wife.
  • Clytaemnestra – I’m guiltless. I only wanted to avenge my daughter. Blame Helen. She was the cause of it all.
  • Chorus – Guiltless? It was a power play. You saw the chance to take advantage of the situation and you murdered your husband and your king. Oh, this web of treachery she’s woven around you, Agamemnon. What a terrible death!
  • Clytaemnestra – It’s no worse than the one he inflicted. He wasn’t an honorable man. I’m no longer his wife. I’m an avenger of my daughter, Iphigenia. This was just.
  • Chorus – How dare you. Who will bury him? Sing at his grave? Eulogize him? You? His murderess?
  • Clytaemnestra – This is none of your business. His burial rites are mine. No one here will mourn for him. He’ll only see Iphigenia in Hades.
  • Chorus – Sin follows sin. Sorrow follows sorrow. When will it end? Zeus won’t let this sit. The law for mortals is that killers get killed. Now this is in your family’s blood
  • Clytaemnestra – You’re wrong. This act has stopped the cycle of death and curse has been lifted on us and Argos
  • Aegisthus (ENTERS) – This is a great day for the end of our blood grudge. My father, Thyestes tried to overthrow his brother, Atreus and was exiled. Begging for forgiveness, he was fed his children as a punishment. Now he is dead and I’ve been living in exile ever since.
  • Chorus – So, this was your idea? The people will never accept you as their king. And to think that you got a woman to do your dirty work
  • Aegisthus – She had to do it because I was suspected of something like that. But now we’re in control of the city.
  • Chorus – Orestes won’t allow you to rule
  • Aegisthus – You want a piece of me? Let’s go! Get out your swords and we’ll see what’s what
  • Clytaemnestra – That’s enough death for today. We don’t need any more trouble with the gods and the people
  • Chorus – Orestes will do something about this. Be sure of that.
  • Clytaemnestra – Well, we’ll leave it at that…


Watch the Play!

Part 1:

Part 2: